History 383: Final Paper
Assess the role of Nehru in the Partition of India.
August 1947, the British Empire in India came to an end and two new independent countries were formed. Partition was a momentous event that was accompanied by widespread carnage and bloodshed, and left behind a legacy of refugee and border issues. It is historically impossible and inaccurate to identify a specific cause of Partition, instead it maybe understood that a series of political and social events lead to the dissection of British India. This paper seeks to evaluate the role of an important leader in the Partition of India—Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In order to do this it is essential that we examine the relationship between Nehru, Gandhi and Jinnah as well as political events that lead to the Hindu-Muslim divide on a political level. The Relationship Between Gandhi and Nehru
Nehru was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The son of Motilal Nehru, he was assured a role in the political drama that was India’s Freedom struggle. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, he returned to India in 1912. Gandhi emerged onto the political scene in 1918, and Nehru almost immediately became a devout follower. According to M.J. Akbar’s biography of Nehru, he sought to join the Satyagraha Sabha in 1919. A decision much opposed by Motilal Nehru who turned to Gandhi to help him in dissuading his son. Stanley Wolpert’s biography of Nehru provides an account of the meeting between the elder Nehru and the man whose ideology would soon shake the British Raj: After their last round in Motilal’s study, “Gandhi advised me not to precipitate matters or do anything which might upset Father,” the rebellious Jawaharlal recalled. “ I was not happy at this.” Motilal was even less happy. “You have taken my son,” he reproached Gandhi near the end of their final talk on the eve of Mahatma’s departure, “but I have a great law practice in the British courts. If you will permit me to continue it, I will pour great sums of the money I make into your movement. Your cause will profit far more than if I give it up to follow you. “No,” Gandhi said. “No! I do not want money. I want you—and every member of your family.” In 1918, Gandhi required the support of established leaders such as Motilal Nehru to win over the Congress as many important political players namely C.R. Das, Bipin Pal and Annie Besant did not trust Gandhi’s use of “Hindu symbolism, Hindu prayers, and Jain-Hindu vows in the revolutionary moment”. Gandhi’s wish soon came true as during the aftermath of the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre Motilal Nehru convinced the Congress to support Gandhi’s Satyagraha resolution. Wolpert writes: “ Without Motilal’s support, Gandhi could never have come so swiftly to a position of such prominence and power in the National Congress and over the future course of India’s nationalist movement”. Nehru rose to the forefront of the new method of freedom struggle promoted by Gandhi. The latter adopted Nehru as his ‘protégé’ and assisted him in becoming an important leader of the freedom struggle. The presidential elections of the Congress in 1929 revealed the extent of Gandhi’s influence. Prior to the elections, Motilal told Gandhi: “It would be sheer flattery to say that you have the same influence as you had on the youth of the country some years ago and most of them make no secret of the fact. All this would indicate that the need of the hour is the head of Gandhi and the voice of Jawahar….There are strong reasons for either you or Jawahar to wear the ‘crown’” Motilal wished to see his son in a position of power in the freedom struggle and used to the debt that Gandhi owed him to fulfill this desire. Though there was more support for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel than Nehru among the provincial Congress committees ‘the key lay with Gandhi; ‘the crown’ would go in the direction of his nod’. In 1929, Nehru was elected the new president of the Congress . Thus until 1946 there was a...
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